Meet the Designer-Artist
Where do you live?
I live just outside of Fifield, Wisconsin. It's a lovely area of northern Wisconsin.
Describe your artistic style.
My style is very eclectic. I like experimenting with different looks and techniques for achieving these. Personally I prefer wearing jewelry pieces in vintage and Victorian style.
What inspires you as a designer-artist?
What inspires me as a jewelry designer-artist is other jewelry. Also color combinations I see in nature, the random assortments of fabric prints at re-sale shops I frequent and just how my beads happen to be arranged in their storage boxes inspire me.
What materials do you most enjoy working with?
I love chain. It is my absolute favorite medium. Wire is also very versatile. Copper and pewter, gunmetal or other rich tones of these materials are especially enjoyable to work with. I like gemstones for accents. Unconventional materials like shards of window or bottle glass offer many possibilities.
What is the name of the piece you submitted with your success story?
Flower Collar and Silver Sequence Necklace
What inspired this design?
Silver Sequence was inspired by an accident. I'd advertently purchased far too many 1-3/4" bracelet sized memory coils, so I'm working on finding creative uses for these rings. One is the center piece for silver sequence which is an elaboration of an earlier earring design also incorporating the rings.
How did it come together?
Flower Collar came together with no advanced planning. While working on another project, I came across the petals in my bead storage box. I had bought these intending them for chain bracelets, but right then they said something else to me. I reached for my wire spool and soon I had a flower. It took some planning time after that to set the flowers to the collar properly.
Share Your Background
When and how did you begin making jewelry/beading?
I began making jewelry when I was about eleven, although as long as I remember I have played with beads and jewelry. I say I started when I was eleven because it was around then when I realized "I love this, I don't want to do anything else."
Who introduced you to beading?
My mom has always encouraged my creativity, I could not have gotten where I am with my craft without the support of my entire family. No one really introduced me to beading in a sense of them telling me this is what it is, this is how to do it, though.
Do you have an artistic background?
Yes, I have an artistic background. My grandmother Irene Fleming, is a noted wildlife artist. Also my dad, Ted Fleming, has considerable ability with metal fabrication and carpentry, which I believe is fittingly described as artistic.
How did you discover Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®?
A friend of the family gave me a Fire Mountain Gems and Beads catalog and it was love at first sight.
What other hobbies do you have?
I write poetry and science fiction-fantasy stories non-professionally. Fashion history is something I have always considered interesting. I spend time with my friends like anybody and read a lot.
Do you belong to any beading societies or beading groups?
My beading and jewelry designs are not really social things.
What role does jewelry-making play in your life?
Selling my jewelry is my part-time career. Jewelry-making is something I would do every day, ideally. Having a creative outlet improves a person's emotional balance.
If you used jewelry-making as a way to bring in income, how are you selling yourself and your jewelry?
Mostly, I sell my jewelry at craft fairs but hostess parties are also a good source of income. Entering Fire Mountain Gems' beading contest was a whim that ended up being profitable and enjoyable.
Do you participate in any charity fundraisers?
A few years ago I donated my time and taught a 4H class on beading. More recently, I was asked to participate in my local library's summer program, so I taught basic wire-wrapping techniques to a sizable group of children. The program paid for my supplies, but my time was volunteered.
Any advice for aspiring jewelry-artists?
As an aspiring jewelry-artist admiring the advanced work of others and hearing them talk about complex techniques you may feel overwhelmed--you may feel inadequate, but know these ladies and gentlemen are still learning. In jewelry art design you are always still learning. It is one of great things about making jewelry.
View all of Rachel's designs in the Gallery of Designs.